Phoenix school principal suspended


As South Africa unrolled its 16 Days of Activism Campaign Against Gender-Based Violence last Monday, a principal at a primary school in Phoenix, is alleged to have raped a teacher in his office on that very morning.

Perumal Govender, 54, was arrested for the rape of a 39-year-old educator and has been released on R3 000 bail after he appeared in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Friday. Phoenix SAPS communications officer, Captain L Naidoo, said the case of rape is under investigation together with three other complaints of sexual harassment, where Govender is alleged to have engaged in inappropriate and sexually-related WhatsApp chats with the teachers.“The accused is alleged to have called the complainant in the rape case to his office on the morning of 25 November 2019.

The complainant alleges that the principal said there was some work that needed to be discussed. Upon her arrival in his office, it is alleged that the principal asked for a hug and then started fondling and nuzzling her. She further alleged that he violated her by touching her in a sexually inappropriate manner and then proceeded to drop his pants, exposed his penis and then ejaculated on the floor,” said Cpt Naidoo.

The teacher proceeded to the police station and opened a rape case leading to Govender’s arrest on Wednesday. The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education spokesperson, Kwazi Mthethwa said the principal faces serious charges. “The principal has been suspended and the Department is conducting investigations. We stand firm against any form of abuse.”

Speaking to The Phoenix Tabloid, local community activist and religious leader, Pst Mervyn Reddy, said he was appalled by the situation and was approached by a friend of the complainant to assist in fast tracking the matter and ensuring justice is served. He ensured the matter received attention.

“I immediately acted. I contacted all relevant personnel and the wheels of justice started turning. First came the arrest. The educators in the school are fearful of the accused and demanded that he be removed from the school. Upon the case of rape becoming known, other complaints started surfacing and complainants started breaking the silence with a 22-year-old educator also being propositioned by the principal.

All relevant government leaders have been informed of the crime in question and they are seeking justice to be served in this matter. The SEM was informed and a dossier was compiled and submitted to the Department of Education about the complaints against the principal. The educators do not want him on the premises and I will do everything in my power to ensure that during this 16 Days of Activism campaign, a strong message is sent out, that this type of abuse will not be tolerated in schools or any government department,” Reddy said.

He added that the DOE must not drag its feet in this case. “The accused is alleged to have been practising his disgraceful conduct over a period of time but it is only now that the matter has come to the forefront. We cannot let this continue. We cannot tolerate this kind of atrocity in our schools and community.

Parents are now wondering about the safety of their children having been in the accused’s company. Pandora’s box has been opened and now we have to deal with the consequences, to ensure that the criminality is stopped in its tracks and the complainants are assisted and counselled so that they can heal in some way,” said Reddy.


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